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ACES in Botswana: Wildlife Conservation & Communities, Summer Research
Kasane, Botswana; Maun, Botswana (Outgoing Program)
Program Terms: Summer Study Tour
Homepage: Click to visit
Program Dates & Deadlines: Click here to view
Budget Sheets Summer Study Tour
Fact Sheet:
Language of Instruction:
Language Requirement:
Illinois Sponsor:
Credit or Not for Credit:
For credit
Foreign Institution:
University of Botswana?s Okavango Research Institute
Program Description:

Program Overview

Make your text books come alive as you traverse the length of the Okavango Delta World Heritage Site via boat, one of the most iconic wilderness areas on the planet rich with wildlife. Along the way encountering elephant, lion, buffalo, hippo, crocodile and more while wild camping on the islands. Transitioning from boat to land you will make your way around the edge of the Delta, gaining a different perspective of the wildlife and flora of the system. From here you will follow the waters as they flood down the Boteti river and disappear into the famous Kalahari basin. You will see how this precious life-source provides during the dry season, before making your way to the wet season wildlife ranges of the Makgadikgadi Pans National Park, where you will explore one of the largest salt pans in the world. You will have numerous learning engagements en route to understand this dynamic system and hands-on experiences throughout to help you learn several field research methods for monitoring biodiversity and implementing mitigation strategies for Human-Wildlife Coexistence.

Throughout the 3-week course, you will be gaining valuable field experience while meeting and learning from many different researchers, NGOs, and wildlife managers. The course will equip you with the ability to apply appropriate research techniques to field studies. Overviews of wildlife ecology, behavior, conservation and research theory are included throughout the course, coordinated by Wildtrax Explorations. The course includes both scientific and social aspects to data collection to prepare you for your interactions with wildlife, communities and different cultures. You will have a workbook to guide your learning while also have training sessions on many different research and monitoring methodologies so you fully understand their applications, along with completing mini-field projects using the skills you have acquired.

interviews botswanaresearch 2 botswana
  • Learn valuable wildlife management and conservation principles
  • Understand the challenges facing wildlife conservation & community based natural resource management
  • Observe the ecological organization and biodiversity of the Okavango Delta and surrounding ecosystems
  • Learn and begin to develop field research techniques and associated skills
  • Understand the social aspects of conservation science
  • Understand and apply research in the field through:
    • Research design & methodologies
    • Data collection & analysis
    • Application and implementation of data 
      Long-term sustainable conservation management projects
Additional Resources

Botswana_study_abroad_summer 2017.pdf

Lonely Planet Info on Botswana:

Okavango Delta Information:

The program is open to students with good academic standing from all UIUC colleges, although ACES students will receive first priority.

  • Must register for NRES 285, which is an 8 week course offered in the Spring semester
  • This course is worth 2 credits. 
  • On campus meetings: TBA
  • Date/place/time of meetings: TBA
Faculty Advisor

 Robert Lee Schooley
 Dr. Schooley is an Associate Professor in the department of Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences.

Group Flight: As part of the Program Fee, the ACES Abroad will organize a group flight for this course.  All group flights will be departing from and arriving at O'Hare Airport. Very few exceptions are made for opting out of the group flight.

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Academic/Student Environ 

Required Pre-departure Courses 

Discover Botswana
This discovery course explores the ecology, people and wildlife of Botswana.  Introduction to Dangerous Wildlife BehaviorAn introduction to dangerous wildlife you will encounter and how to deal with them from a vehicle and on foot. The course also includes understanding vital warning signals from these species and how best to respond to these signals, ensuring your safety while in the field.
Understanding Elephant Conservation in Southern Africa
Elephant conservation is a ‘hot-topic’ in Africa at the moment, with many different views and opinions on what to be done about over-population in some areas and intensive poaching in others. In this publication Prof Rudi van Aarde, from the University of Pretoria, addresses some of the less than factual generalizations that dominate discussions on elephant management.


This program aims to provide students with researching and learning opportunities and to facilitate and manage practical research contributing towards management interventions and developing biodiversity conservation in Africa. 

Okavango Research Institute (ORI) Research Field Training Courses

The courses will utilize ORI’s comprehensive knowledge and unique location to focus the political, managerial, and practical dimensions of development and conservation. Based on a thorough theoretical grounding, the students will gain first-hand experience through case studies, practical assignments, excursions and discussions with stakeholders.


Human Wildlife Conflict Project

Students will be assisting the ORI with research on human-wildlife conflict, which is a complex management and conservation issue in Botswana. Few studies have been conducted to fully understand the ecological and social patterns and underlying processes of human-wildlife interactions in arable agro-ecosystems in Botswana. Yet, information on spatial patterns, environmental predictors and socio-economic aspects of HWC are required in order to devise effective mitigation and adaptation strategies. This proposed project will concentrate investigations in HWC ‘hotspot’ areas of northern Botswana, namely the Okavango Delta in Ngamiland District, Chobe Enclave in Chobe District, and Makgadikgadi Pans in Boteti district.

This proposed project will concentrate investigations in HWC ‘hotspot’ areas of northern Botswana, namely the Okavango Delta in Ngamiland District, Chobe Enclave in Chobe District, and Makgadikgadi Pans in Boteti district. A country-wide assessment of status and trends of HWC will be made by exploring data compiled by the Department of Wildlife and National Parks over the past three decades. Additional data will be collected to validate the data previously collected by DWNP. Data from this project will contribute crucial information to the Government of Botswana about the processes and underlying patterns of HWC in hotspot areas. Such information will be useful in designing effective HWC mitigation strategies and suggesting alternative land use plans to reduce HWC, which is essential for the success of national and regional conservation strategies, such as the Kavango Zambezi (KAZA) Transfrontier Conservation Area. The activities outlined will build capacity in the local communities, which will help to raise community awareness and responsibility for HWC situations.


Lab Facilities in Botswana  Lab Equipment   Computer Centre in Botswana

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Field Sites and Accomodation

The region on which we will be focusing our first HWC project site is in the Chobe Enclave. This diverse concession lies within the Chobe National Park and Chobe Forest Reserve, with the Linyanti and Chobe River creating its northern boundary with Namibia. This area is zoned as an agricultural, pastoral and wildlife management area creating complex human-wildlife conflict dynamics. This important wildlife corridor has a number of communities residing in it that are impacted by elephant, lion, leopard, hyena and other wildlife species.
Chobe Research Camp 

Chobe students are based at the Van Thuyne Ridge Research Centre, which is located on a few tree islands nestled within the thatch grass vleis that the area is well known for. Student’s stay in twin dome tents or twin rooms and have communal toilet and laundry facilities. Meals are served in an open communal dining area shared with other scientists and researchers carrying out studies within the area. This area also boasts a small library and social area around the characteristic African campfire. A fully functional lab and computer room are also available at the camp with satellite internet connection.

Wildlife ACT has established a research camp to implement the standardized monitoring protocol in the Moremi Game Reserve, which forms the heart of the Okavango Delta. The area is zoned as an exclusive wildlife management area and forms the heart of Botswana’s eco- tourism activities, with thousands of visitors coming to the region every year. The region is home to important populations of endangered predators and threatened wildlife species, with population baseline monitoring data needed.
Okavango Khwai Research Camp 

Okavango students will be based at Wildlife ACT’s Khwai Research Camp. The camp is situated on a small island in the swamps, accessed by a walkway bridge. Student’s stay in canvas walled  rooms with thatched roofs which have en suite toilets and showers. It is important for students to realize that the conditions are simple with limited solar electricity supplies. Hot water is provided via solar geysers. Communal laundry facilities are available to students with detergent for hand-washing clothes provided. There is a communal kitchen and dining area, shared with other scientists and researchers carrying out studies at the institute. Meals will be prepared together with other Wildlife ACT students, with students taking turns in preparing meals and cleaning up. Food for three basic meals each day will be provided along with drinking water. We can cater for vegetarians, however NOT for vegans. If you have any other special dietary requirement you will be responsible for purchasing those food items.


Housing in Botswana   camping tent in botswana

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Program Fees

For an Unofficial Budget of this program, please scroll to the top of this page and find the box labeled “Budget Sheets” and click on the semester/term during which you want to participate. Please read through the Unofficial Budget information, which also includes information on Financial Aid and Scholarships.
Program Fee Includes: airfare, accommodation, some meals, ground transportation, entrance fees, emergency medical insurance, and miscellaneous expenses.  For a detailed budget, please click the "Budget Sheet" link above.  

*Fees are subject to change due to exchange rate fluctuations and the number of participants.

Total cost is ESTIMATED and is BEFORE scholarships. 

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Financial Aid and Scholarship Opportunities

Financial aid can be applied to the cost of the program. The amount of financial aid that is applicable to study abroad will depend on your financial aid package. Since there are many variables that determine how your financial aid package applies to study abroad, it is best that you consult with the study abroad financial aid advisor in the Office of Student Financial Aid to discuss your individual financial aid package.  Their email and more information on Financial aid can be found at

Eligible students may receive additional scholarships toward the program cost.  The amount varies depending on the program destination.  Scholarship amounts are announced when program fees for each program are announced.  Non-ACES students should contact their college about scholarship opportunities.  All participants should also apply for the Illinois for Illinois (I4I) Study Abroad Undergraduate Scholarship. For more information, click here
ACES Students are eligible for additional funding through their college. The ACES Scholarship Application may have an earlier deadline than your study abroad program.  Please check the ACES scholarship page for deadlines correlating to your program.  More information about ACES scholarships can be found at
For more information about general costs, please read the First Steps Cost, Financial Aid, and Scholarship section here for tips and advice:

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Withdrawal Policy, Change and Cancellation Policy

To change to a different program during the application process, please e-mail 

To withdraw or cancel your participation in a study abroad program, please visit this link to view the Withdrawal and Refund Policy (  

botswana elephants

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Passport/Visa Information

You must have a valid passport to participate on this program with at least two blank VISA pages. If you do not already have a passport, or if it needs to be renewed, you must begin that process now, even before program acceptance. 

You may also be required to get a visa for your program.  Please consult the host country’s consulate website or a visa agency to determine whether or not a visa is required to travel to your destination country or countries.

More information about passports and visas can be found at

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Application Information

First Steps Info Session 
Read the First Steps found on our website  or attend a First Steps Info Session in person.  These resources will get you thinking about important themes to consider before selecting a program including: academics, housing, duration, location, and cost.  You will learn how to research a program, understand cost (with a segment on scholarships and financial aid too), and even how to apply!  
Application Process
Click the "Apply Now" button on this web page to apply. Note that you will be charged a non-refundable application fee by clicking "Apply Now".
You may only apply to one program per term. Please consider your program options carefully before beginning a new program application.  Each time you click "Apply Now" you will be charged a non-refundable application fee.
Application Components
Program applications vary.  This ACES-sponsored, faculty-led course abroad application may include:

  • Photocopy of Passport or receipt verifying application or renewal of passport
  • Signature verification form (downloadable from your online application)
  • Essay questions
  • Online questionnaires and online signature documents
  • Letter of reference – done electronically (must me an academic advisor, professor, or TA) 
*It is at the program leader’s discretion to require an interview as part of the application process. 

All requirements must be completed by the Study Abroad Office deadlines: online materials are due by 11:59 PM on the deadline date; paper materials are due by 4:45 PM the following business day.  The Study Abroad Office reviews program applications as a batch after the deadline has passed. The decision dates listed below indicate the earliest possible date that a student's application may be reviewed. Most decisions will be released two to three weeks after each deadline.
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Health, Safety, Pre-Departure
Health and Safety
The health and safety of students abroad is something that the University of Illinois takes very seriously, which is why the Study Abroad Office provides services that range from international insurance coverage to a 24-hour phone line to speak to an Advisor on Duty. These services can be found at

Once you have been accepted into the program you may need to get a health consultation at McKinley Health travel and immunization unit ( to discuss what immunization you need, get a travel kit, etc. See also

Before You Go 
The “Before You Go” section on our website provides you with information on what to pack, money abroad, transportation, communicating with family members while abroad, and even what to do the day of your departure. (

Pre-Departure Resources
The UIUC Study Abroad website ( and the ACES Study Abroad website ( both provide a variety of pre-departure information. Explore both sites for more information on such as travel plans and what to pack.

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Contact Information

Faculty Advisor
Robert Lee Schooley
W-401B Turner Hall
Urbana Illinois 61801
Phone: (217) 244-2729

ACES Academic Programs
123 Mumford Hall, MC-710
Urbana, IL 61801
Phone: (217) 333-3380

Walk-in hours: 2-4pm Tuesdays and Thursdays and 9:30-11:30am Wednesdays. 
Noticed an error on this page?  Let us know here. 

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Dates / Deadlines:
Term Year App Deadline Decision Date Start Date End Date
Summer Study Tour 2017 02/15/2017
Rolling Admission 06/04/2017 07/29/2017
Summer Study Tour 2018 02/15/2018 ** Rolling Admission 07/21/2018 08/12/2018

** Indicates rolling admission application process. Applicants will be immediately notified of acceptance into this program and be able to complete post-decision materials prior to the term's application deadline.

Indicates that deadline has passed